Coronavirus UPDATE: The effectiveness of a face mask

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face-mask(NaturalHealth365) The novel coronavirus, generally known as COVID-19, has taken the world by storm since it began infecting people in Wuhan, China back in December 2019.  We see people wearing a face mask … the frantic purchasing of extra food, household essentials and nutritional supplements … plus a heightened sense of fear about the future.

The death rate from this virus continues to rise, thousands are suffering from related upper respiratory infections and respiratory distress, and even the stock market has been thrust into a nose dive.  We’re all left with questions, including this one: Do face masks really work as a “first line” of defense?

The answer to this isn’t as straightforward as you may think. And unfortunately, the United States and other nations around the world are now facing a face mask shortage, since so many people are buying them and so many shipments from Asian-based manufacturers simply aren’t being sent out – and officials are saying this could have a dire impact.

Surgeon General “Logic:” If the American public doesn’t stop buying face masks, our community could be at even GREATER risk of coronavirus epidemic

According to a February 2020 paper published in International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents, the virus formerly known as COVID-19 has now been renamed to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.  COVID-19 is now officially recognized as the upper respiratory infection caused by the virus. This is similar to how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).

Since the virus which causes COVID-19 spreads primarily through the air (in the form of droplets from an infected person’s mouth or nose after coughing or sneezing), people have naturally been trying to stock up face masks to reduce their risk of infection.

There are some serious problems with this. First, and as reported by LiveScience, many disease experts point out that regular masks may not be made of the right kind of material to fully stop SARS-CoV-2 from entering a person’s mouth and nose, especially if the mask is worn incorrectly. In fact, the U.S. Surgeon General recently warned that improperly wearing and handling face masks may actually increase a person’s risk of the disease.

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Additionally, the growing shortage of face masks threatens to leave healthcare providers without enough personal protective equipment to use while working with sick patients. This is a huge problem, argues the Surgeon General and others, because if providers working directly with infected patients aren’t adequately protected, the spread of the virus into the community could be accelerated.

And as COVID-19 has “officially” reached a pandemic level, U.S. healthcare workers will need upwards of 3.5 billion face masks – but, the nation only has about 1% of this number at the moment.

So, what’s the bottom line? Face masks can work against something like SARS-CoV-2, but they’re not a 100% guarantee – and they may just give people a false sense of hope that distracts them from taking other necessary steps to reduce their risk of exposure.

Unless you yourself are showing signs of an illness or if you’re around someone who is, you likely don’t need one – at the moment.  But, you should definitely focus on supporting a healthy immune system.

Eat fresh (organic – as much as possible) foods, take high quality nutritional supplements like vitamin C and D, get an adequate amount of rest – every night, maintain a physically active lifestyle, avoid (overly) stressful situations, keep your indoor air space clean with a quality air purifier and avoid the use of toxic (immune suppressing) chemicals for household or personal use.

In case you already bought face masks, here’s how to use it properly

If you are going to wear a face mask – whether that’s a typical surgical mask or a heavier duty N95 respirator – at least be sure to take these precautions to increase their effectiveness:

  1. Clean and sanitize your hands first BEFORE and AFTER touching your mask.
  2. Make sure the stiff upper edge of the surgical mask is pinched securely against the bridge of your nose, and that the bottom of the mask covers your mouth and chin.
  3. Avoid touching the mask while wearing it, and never touch the front of the mask. The front of the mask is considered contaminated. You should only touch the loops that go around your ears.

Instead of or in addition to face masks, follow these other (common sense) tips to stay safe from harm: avoid large crowds for the near future – until things calm down, wash your hands – on a regular basis throughout the day with soap and hot water and (again) be sure you do all you can to keep your immune system healthy and strong.

Stay tuned to NaturalHealth365 for more updates on the coronavirus, as they become available.

Sources for this article include:

NationalGeographic.com
NPR.org
CNN.com
WSJ.com
LiveScience.com
WHO.int
BusinessInsider.com
SFCDCP.org
BusinessInsider.com